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Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

When I told Justin that I wanted to go back to Disney World in September, one of the biggest points I made (errrr maybe the only point I had to make) was that the timing would coincide with Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. No joke, he got into bed one night and showed me the map he had made of Epcot, including the location of the stands he wanted to hit and exactly what he wanted to buy at each spot. I’m pretty sure he also made an Excel spreadsheet. #thatsmyboy

Before heading to the park and stuffing our faces with deliciousness, we set out on an easy run around the Grand Floridian and Polynesian resorts.

Grand Floridian from lagoon running path

Grand Floridian from lagoon running path

The plan then was to spend the rest of the morning at the front of the park going on rides before heading to World Showcase for the remainder of the day and night. We were able to ride the new Soarin’ Around the World, Living with the Land, Test Track, and Ellen’s Great Energy Adventure before heading over to the Italy pavilion’s Via Napoli for lunch.

Epcot's Food and Wine Festival

Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival

The pizza (and sangria omg the sangria) at Via Napoli is incredible so we didn’t want to pass up a chance to indulge ourselves. We figured we’d have salad and pizza for lunch and then snack around the world for dinner.

After lunch, we had FastPass reservations for Frozen Ever After in the Norway pavilion. Because of FastPass grouping, we had to choose between FastPasses for Frozen or for Soarin’ and Test Track. We elected to grab the FastPasses for Frozen and just hit Soarin’ and Test Track early.

If you’re heading to Epcot and are choosing FastPasses, I’d pick Frozen Ever after because the Soarin’ and Test Track standby lines were not bad and the Frozen Ever After standby line was absolutely insane.

Also, I just want to take a minute to talk about HOW UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING Frozen Ever After is. While it is no secret that I love Frozen and all things Olaf, I really loved the Maelstrom ride and was upset to learn that it would be no more. Disney did an unbelievable job with the Frozen ride and the technology used for the characters is incredible. The movements are so real and lifelike that you almost believe you are in the movie. Both Justin and I were very impressed.

Romantic stroll (ehh stumble)

Romantic stroll (ehh stumble)

After enjoying the Frozen ride, I was in the mood for a frozen treat (see what I did there? bahaha). Dole Whip with coconut rum was high on my list of “must-haves” for the day and it did not disappoint. This may most definitely will be a treat I have to enjoy again when we go back in February for Princess Weekend.

Dole Whip and coconut rum!

Dole Whip and coconut rum!

Later in the day, because it’s Florida in September, the skies went from blue and cloudless to dark and ominous in roughly 3.7 seconds. We waited out the storm in the Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival before running through the rain (in our ponchos – these are a vital item on all Florida vacations) to Spaceship Earth. Luckily, once we left Spaceship Earth, the rain had stopped and we were able to walk around and enjoy the remainder of the World Showcase. We kept our ponchos on, though, just in case. #FloridaProblems

After a long day of running/walking around, eating and drinking, we were ready to head back to the hotel to get some solid sleep. We had a long (and magical!) day in Magic Kingdom ahead of us 🙂

Epcot - Spaceship Earth

Epcot – Spaceship Earth

This was my first time at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival but it will definitely not be my last. I liked going in September because the festival had just opened and the crowds weren’t all that huge yet. Next year, Justin and I plan to run the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon so we’ll be back for Food and Wine but expect the crowds to be much larger.

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Next up: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

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Halloween at Disney World: Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios.

Halloween at Disney World actually got me in a festive Halloween mood. It probably helps that September in Orlando is 90 degrees with humidity and it still feels like summer, but nevertheless, one of my least favorite holidays (because I legitimately mourn the end of summer) became something I enjoyed this past week.

Wanting to get the most out of my annual pass, Justin and I booked a fall getaway to Disney (my 3rd Disney trip of 2016 – January, February) to attend a Magic Kingdom ticketed event (Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party) and enjoy Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. September is a great time to visit Disney as it is considered a low season. Kids have gone back to school, there is a chance of thunderstorms every afternoon (bring a poncho, it ain’t no thang), and the Halloween/Food and Wine crowds are still light.

Last Saturday morning, we sacrificed sleep and got on a plane that left before sunrise. #WorthIt

I don't hate this

I don’t hate this

We landed in Orlando a little after 8, dropped our bags off at the Grand Floridian, and left for Animal Kingdom to get a full day in the park.

Animal Kingdom

Saturday was H-O-T hot. We eased our pain by walking in and out of shops throughout the day and taking in a showing of The Festival of the Lion King.

While on the subject of pain, I had been suffering from an allergic reaction from my knees to my toes (both legs) and Saturday it got so bad that I ended up in First Aid. My doctor called in a couple of prescriptions for me and they were delivered to my hotel Sunday morning. The local pharmacist was extremely helpful; he spoke to me about the claim process with my insurance company and he sent along all the necessary paperwork. Disney made this process super easy and I’m so thankful because I was actually able to enjoy the rest of my trip. #DisneyWinsAgain

animal-kingdom-day

I haven’t been to Animal Kingdom since they began nighttime hours so I was excited to catch a sunset Kilimanjaro Safari (amazing) and experience the Tree of Life show (SO GOOD). The crowd was oohing and aahing before the projection show officially began whenever one of the animals on the tree would move.  Our bus driver back to the hotel told us that there are multiple projections so on any given night or time, you may catch a slightly different one.

Tree of Life - Animal Kingdom, WDW

Tree of Life – Animal Kingdom, WDW

When we got back to the room, we were hangry, tired, and cranky but all that disappeared when we walked into our room and saw the view from our balcony:

Cinderella's Castle from Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Cinderella’s Castle from Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

After I stopped freaking out over the view, we grabbed a late dinner at Grand Floridian’s 24-hour dining restaurant, Gasparilla Island Grill. I got something called the “Idaho Dog” after joking with a couple castmembers about how silly it sounded but how good it actually tasted. In case you haven’t guessed it, it’s a hotdog in a baked potato… and it was all sorts of awesome. I kid you not.

Hollywood Studios

Before heading to Hollywood Studios for the day, we brunched at Grand Floridian’s Narcoossee’s. Oh boy is this food delicious. Also, the mimosas are incredible and I dubbed them “the greatest mimosas I have ever had in my life.” Must be those Florida oranges, eh?

With full bellies and light wallets (magic bands?), we got on a bus to Hollywood Studios with just enough time to get to our first FastPass of the day: Toy Story Midway Mania. With the new tracks on the ride, the standby time is significantly reduced. Good to know for future Hollywood Studios adventuring!

hollywood-studios

It felt like our time at Hollywood Studios flew by and before we knew it, we were exiting with thousands of others as they closed the park for the night.

Sunday night was a Halloween Party so we parked ourselves on our balcony to watch the Hallowishes fireworks.

Fireworks view from Grand Floridian

Fireworks view from Grand Floridian

Watching the finale from this spot was incredible and it got me even more excited for our very own Halloween Party on Tuesday.

Spoiler alert: I was still not prepared for the finale in front of the castle.

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NEXT UP: Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival and a morning in the Magic Kingdom. 

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Glass Slipper Challenge: Princess Half-Marathon

Alright I am FINALLY finishing up my Princess Half-Marathon weekend posts! If you’re interested: here are the 5k and 10k recaps from that weekend.

Princess Half-Marathon

My alarm went off, again, at punch-yourself-in-the-face o’clock and it was a strugglefest. With the approximate 3-4 hours of sleep I got after staying (voluntarily) at Magic Kingdom until after close, it’s no surprise that I was in a huge daze as I got ready to tackle the last 13.1 miles of the challenge. I was in such a daze that I actually left my hotel room without my bib number (whoops) and had to knock to get Justin to let me back in.

After that little mishap, I walked down to meet my cousin Mike in the lobby. Once at the start village, we relaxed a bit, stopped in the port-a-potties, and met up with Jess to walk up to the corrals. We were all placed in corral C so we were all able to start together even though Mike was running for time and Jess and I were looking to PR in ridiculousness.

Princess half 1

Again, we kept the pace extremely comfortable and stopped for photos with characters when we wanted.

Running through Main Street was magical, as always, although I did miss the Christmas lights on the castle, which give this part of the course an extra magical touch during WDW Marathon weekend. My family was in Magic Kingdom so I was able to see them as opposed to sending them shaky videos and photos like I did during January’s half and full marathons.

Princess half 2

I kept the family updated with where I was throughout the race so they’d know when to expect me coming down towards the finish line. With another 13.1 more magical miles in the book, my 3rd Disney challenge/5th Disney half/13th Disney race was complete 🙂

princess half finish

With all the magical business of the morning, we decided to make it a later day at the park and not leave for Epcot until noon. We did some hot tubbing (some people napped, I didn’t because apparently I don’t sleep in Disney) before heading out for another day in the happiest place on earth.

Epcot

Epcot is pretty much the best park for adults and there was a huge reason we chose Epcot for after all the races: booze.

epcot group

Before making our way to the World Showcase, we enjoyed the following rides/attractions:

  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival (So good! I could have watched a dozen more.)
  • Living with the Land
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track (The. Best.)

I can’t wait for Soarin’ to reopen. When Justin and I go back (yep, my next trip is planned – gotta make use of that annual pass!), it’ll be up and ready for us to enjoy 🙂

Once at the World Showcase, I demanded pizza and sangria in Italy for lunch. No one put up much of a fight.

The pizza at Via Napoli is incredible. The “kids” table ordered 3 of the largest pies and we all laughed at ourselves because of how ridiculous we were to think we would finish this much pizza. Seven minutes later (yes, seven, Nicki has it timestamped on Snapchat), there were about 2 little pieces left. The “kids” table also ordered bottomless sangria. #noregrets

epcot drinking around the world

The rest of the day was spent being entertained by the outdoor country attractions (I love Sergio in Italy and the chair guy in France) and enjoying a few more adult beverages (cantaloupe juice and vodka from Japan, limoncello in Italy, four different kinds of champagne in France, and my favorite grapefruit beer in Germany).

epcot evening

We had dinner in Germany before watching the Illuminations fireworks at the end of the night. I was happy that we had one more half-day to spend relaxing by the pool but bummed that another Disney vacation was coming to an end.

The next day was beautiful and we spent the morning and early afternoon lounging by the pool, sipping pina coladas, and getting a nice tan to bring back to cold NYC.

Until next time, Orlando.

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Glass Slipper Challenge: Enchanted 10k

With 3.1 miles and a day at Hollywood Studios under my belt, it was time for the official start of the Glass Slipper Challenge with the Enchanted 10k!

Enchanted 10k

My cousin Liz was also running the 10k so we met up in the lobby at holy-hell-it’s-early o’clock to get on the bus to the start village. Once at the start village, we had lots of time to sit down, make a stop in the port-a-potties, and meet up with my friend Jess before getting into the corrals.

As much as I typically hate 10ks, I absolutely adore the Disney 10Ks. It helps that I basically trot the entire time and aren’t pushing myself to a 10k pace, but it’s also because I truly adore Disney’s 10k course. I remember thinking during my first Dopey that I had never enjoyed this distance more.

In theory, the 10k sounds great. It’s a solid mid-distance run and you’re finished in less than an hour. Sounds wonderful, right? Wrong. In reality, racing a 10k is horrific for me. But running the 10k in Disney? Purely magical.

enchanted 10k

We kept a light and conversational pace, enjoying the scenery and character stops in Epcot, on the Boardwalk (where I saw the wonderful Alec!), and through Yacht and Beach Club.

enchanted 10k finish

9.3 weekend miles were down!

Magic Kingdom

With the early start time and a “short” race, we were up and at it pretty quickly, getting to Magic Kingdom before 10 am. Is there anything more magical than turning onto Main Street and seeing the castle up ahead? You can say yes, but you’d be wrong.

magic kingdom

I was pumped for a long and busy day in one of my favorite places on the planet.

magic kingdom 2

We enjoyed the following rides/attractions during our 12+ hours in the park:

  • It’s a Small World
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (One of my favorites)
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (So much yes)
  • Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade
  • Splash Mountain (John’s face. #icanteven)
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor (This will never get old. Also, now I want to have a Monsters movie marathon.)
  • Haunted Mansion (Classic and THE BEST. End of conversation.)
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Main Street Electrical Parade (The older I get, the more I love these parades.)
  • Celebrate the Magic (WHAAAAT?! Disney, THIS WAS AMAZINGLY MAGICAL. If you can watch this, do it. Do it now.)
  • Wishes Nighttime Spectacular

Don’t worry, we also stopped for Dole Whip… twice 🙂

magic kingdom 3

With the half-marathon the next day, my cousin Mikey left a little after 8 pm to get a solid night’s sleep. Me? Well I’m not as smart and I opted to stay until after the park closed. So yea, I got a little more than 3 hours of sleep and then ran a half-marathon. And then took no nap and went straight to Epcot to drink in the sunshine. #wasnteventired #disneymagic

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Next up: the Princess Half Marathon!

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